Heartburn – Everything you need to know

If live in Ottawa and you suffer from heartburn you are not alone. In Canada, 14% of the population suffer from heartburn each year. In Ottawa, that equates to 140,000 people. This blog will help you understand what are the common causes and how you might help your heartburn symptoms.

Most people assume that heartburn is the result of too much acid in the stomach. However, researchers now understand that heartburn is the consequence of too little acid in the stomach. Either the food has been sitting in the stomach for too long because there is not enough acid to properly break it down or the oesophagal valve is not working correctly and fails to prevent the contents of the stomach from rising into the oesophagus.

Symptoms of Heartburn

  1. A burning feeling in the chest usually behind the breastbone, burning in the throat
  2. A hot or sour taste in mouth
  3. Difficulty swallowing
  4. A sense of food being ‘stuck’ in the throat or chest a chronic cough, sore throat or hoarseness

Common Causes of Heartburn

  1. Low stomach acid
  2. Overeating
  3. Eating too fast
  4. Consuming too much coffee or caffeine
  5. Consuming too much sugar or refined carbohydrates
  6. Smoking
  7. Drugs
  8. Food allergies and sensitivities
  9. Certain health conditions such as ulcers, gallbladder problems or
  10. IBS
  11. Stress or anxiety
  12. H. pylori
  13. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO
  14. Histamine Intolerance

Treatment for Heartburn

If you have heartburn, I suggest the following four-step process that I use in my practice to identify and resolve the cause of your symptoms.

Step One – Modify your eating habits

  1. Don’t eat late at night
  2. Don’t over consume fluids with meals
  3. Eat more slowly and chew food thoroughly
  4. Avoid eating just before exercising

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider whether your diet is causing your heartburn.

Step Two – Modify your diet

  1. Avoid cold drinks
  2. Increase vegetables
  3. Avoid caffeine and sugar
  4. Increase probiotic foods
  5. If excessive, avoid chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, onions, peppers and peppermint temporarily
  6. Food combining can work well as it creates less work for the stomach
  7. Try a Food Elimination Diet to identify potential triggers.

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief, then it is time to consider introducing supplementation.

Step Three – Try supplementation

Below are the most common supplements I use in my practice for constipation. When using supplements introducing one at a time is best.

  1. Soil Based Probiotics
  2. Aloe vera juice
  3. Apple cider vinegar
  4. Betaine HCl treatment
  5. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
  6. Slippery elm or marshmallow root to help soothe oesophagal tissue
  7. Vitamin A, beta-carotene and zinc to help heal the mucosa membrane
  8. Fennel tea

Step Four – Functional Lab Testing

If steps one to three does not help, then consider the following functional lab tests, which you can obtain from your family physician or a functional medicine practitioner.

  1. H. pylori testing (stool)
  2. SIBO Breath Test
  3. IgG food sensitivity testing
  4. Barium swallow (Physician only)
  5. Endoscopy (Physician only)

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.


This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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